TAMPA, Fla. — India’s government has told SpaceX to stop taking preorders for Starlink broadband services in the country until it has a license to operate there.
India’s Ministry of Communications issued a Nov. 26 statement instructing SpaceX to “refrain from booking/rendering the satellite internet services in India with immediate effect.”
Citizens were also warned against pre-ordering Starlink because the “company has not obtained any license/authorization for rendering satellite based internet services” in India.
SpaceX, which appeared as of Nov. 29 to still be accepting $99 preorder deposits via Starlink’s website for addresses in India, did not respond to SpaceNews about the Indian government’s public advisory.
Preorders from the country had crossed the 5,000 mark by the start of October, Sanjay Bhargava said Oct. 1 in a LinkedIn post on his first day as Starlink’s head of India.
He said Starlink’s “stretch target” is to have 200,000 Starlink terminals active in India in December 2022, although “[a]ctual numbers may be much lower than that or even zero if we do not get government approval” for the services.
The “government approval process is complex,” stated a document Bhargava shared through the LinkedIn post, which said Starlink had yet to file an application with the Indian government at the time.
A month later, Bhargava said in a separate LinkedIn post that SpaceX had incorporated a wholly owned subsidiary in India on Nov. 1 called Starlink Satellite Communications Private Limited (SSCPL).
“We can now start applying for licenses, open bank accounts etc.,” he said.
Bhargava praised the country’s Ministry of Corporate Affairs for an “incredibly fast” incorporation process — less than four weeks before India’s Ministry of Communications would slam the brakes on presales.
“If we do get licensed fast as well it will really help in showing the world that ease of doing business is very high in India if you understand the system and work in national interest,” Bhargava said in the early November LinkedIn post.
However, even in countries where it Starlink has licenses to operate, pandemic-related supply chain issues have been slowing down Starlink’s product deployments.
SpaceX told preorder customers in a Nov. 23 email that silicon shortages over the last six months have slowed the company’s expected production rate, impacting its ability “to fulfill many Starlink orders this year.”
SpaceX has launched more than 1,800 Starlink satellites to date, and recently said over 750,000 people worldwide have preordered its services.
About 140,000 users worldwide are using Starlink, SpaceX told the U.S. Federal Communications Commission in a Nov. 10 filing.
“Over 14 million people have inquired about Starlink service in their area and today Starlink is available in over 20 countries (and counting),” SpaceX said in the Nov. 23 email.
SpaceX has scheduled its next Starlink launch for Dec. 1 from Cape Canaveral, Florida, breaking the record for the most Falcon 9 flights in a year.